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Effects of Bite Count Feedback from a Wearable Device and Goal Setting on Consumption in Young Adults



      New technologies are emerging that may help individuals engage in healthier eating behaviors. One paradigm to test the efficacy of a technology is to determine its effect relative to environment cues that are known to cause individuals to overeat.


      The purpose of this work was to independently investigate two questions: How does the presence of a technology that provides bite count feedback alter eating behavior? and, How does the presence of a technology that provides bite count feedback paired with a goal alter eating behavior?


      Two studies investigated these research questions. The first study tested the effects of a large and small plate crossed with the presence or absence of a device that provided bite count feedback on intake. The second study tested the effects of a bite count goal with bite count feedback, again crossed with plate size, on intake. Both studies used a 2×2 between-subjects design.


      In the first study, 94 subjects (62 women aged 19.0±1.6 years with body mass index [BMI] 23.04±3.6) consumed lunch in a laboratory. The second study examined 99 subjects (56 women aged 18.5±1.5 years with BMI 22.73±2.70) under the same conditions.


      In both studies subjects consumed a single-course meal, using either a small or large plate. In the first study participants either wore or did not wear an automated bite counting device. In the second study all participants wore the bite counting device and were given either a low bite count goal (12 bites) or a high bite count goal (22 bites).

      Statistical analyses

      Effect of plate size, feedback, and goal on consumption (grams) and number of bites taken were assessed using 2×2 analyses of variance. As adjunct measures, the effects of serving size, bite size (grams per bite), postmeal satiety, and satiety change were also assessed.


      In the first study there was a main effect of plate size on grams consumed and number of bites taken such that eating from a large plate led to greater consumption (P=0.001) and a greater number of bites (P=0.001). There was also a main effect of feedback on consumption and number of bites taken such that those who received feedback consumed less (P=0.011) and took fewer bites (P<0.001). In the second study there was a main effect of plate size on consumption such that those eating from a large plate consumed more (P=0.003) but did not take more bites. Further analysis revealed a main effect of goal on number of bites taken such that those who received the low goal took fewer bites (P<0.001) but did not consume less.


      Providing feedback on the number of bites taken from a wearable intake monitor can reduce overall intake during a single meal. Regarding the first research question, providing feedback significantly reduced intake in both plate size groups and reduced the overall number of bites taken. Regarding the second research question, participants were successful in eating to their goals. However, individuals in the low goal condition appeared to compensate for the restricted goal by taking larger bites, leading to comparable levels of consumption between the low and high goal groups. Hence, the interaction of technology with goals should be considered when introducing a health intervention.


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      P. W. Jasper is a research assistant, Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.


      E. R. Muth is a professor, Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.


      M. T. James is a graduate assistant, School of Computing, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.


      A. W. Hoover is an associate professor, Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.